In a surprising turn of events at the 2023 Provincial Golden Glove Championship held in Quebec, Canada, Dr. Katia Bissonnette, a female psychologist from Saguenay, found herself at the center of a heated debate after withdrawing from her scheduled boxing match against transgender athlete Mya Walmsley.
Dr. Bissonnette’s decision to step away from the fight just an hour before it was set to begin sent shockwaves through the boxing community and ignited a firestorm of controversy. She alleged that she had not been notified in advance that her opponent was a transgender individual, leading to concerns about fairness and safety in the sport.
The championship, hosted collaboratively by the Quebec Boxing Federation and the KO-96 boxing club, aimed to provide novice boxers with an opportunity to qualify for December’s Canadian Championship. However, it was overshadowed by the unexpected withdrawal and the ensuing debate.
Dr. Bissonnette explained her decision, stating, “I came down from my hotel room to head towards the room where all the boxers were warming up. My coach suddenly took me aside and told me he received information by text message, which he had then validated, that my opponent was not a woman by birth. We did not have any other additional information.”
She further elaborated, “The rule issued from Boxing Canada to the Quebec Boxing Federation was not to reveal that the opponent was transsexual, so that the latter would not be discriminated against. However, after confirmation, this policy only applies when a sex change has taken place before puberty.”
Dr. Bissonnette’s concerns were not without merit. Studies, such as one conducted by the University of Utah, have highlighted the potential risks associated with female boxers competing against transgender athletes who underwent puberty as males. The physical and psychological implications of such matchups have raised valid questions about the fairness of the competition.
Mya Walmsley, the transgender boxer in question, criticized Dr. Bissonnette’s handling of the situation, arguing that it could lead to the exclusion and discrimination of transgender athletes. Walmsley said, “Rather than turning to me, my coach, or the Quebec Olympic Boxing Federation for more information, she decided to turn directly to the media to out me. This kind of behavior puts athletes at risk of being excluded or receiving personal attacks based on hearsay… I am afraid that this type of accusation could eventually be used to delegitimize athletes in the women’s category and justify arbitrary and invasive regulations.”
This incident is the latest in a series of disputes involving female athletes who have expressed reservations about competing against transgender athletes. The issue first gained prominence in the mainstream media during the debate between Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer, and Riley Gaines, a female swimmer who argued that competing against Thomas was inherently unfair.
Different sports have grappled with how to address this issue, with a goal of ensuring fairness without excluding or discriminating against transgender individuals. The debate surrounding this topic is far from settled, as organizations and sports authorities continue to seek a balanced and equitable approach.
In conclusion, the controversy surrounding Dr. Katia Bissonnette’s withdrawal from her bout against transgender boxer Mya Walmsley has brought the broader issue of transgender athletes in sports to the forefront once again. As discussions continue and policies evolve, finding a solution that respects the rights and concerns of all athletes remains a complex challenge. The future of competitive sports will undoubtedly be shaped by ongoing debates like this one.